Jim Siergey: Maniac!

April 11th, 2014

I am sometimes possessed with the desire to involve myself with things of no social or culturally redeeming value… such as writing for this blog. (Rim-shot!)

My latest venture into this morass was the viewing of a film from 1934 entitled MANIAC. And now, I’m going to tell you about it—and there’s nothing you can do to stop me! Bwah-ha-ha!

This exploitation flick has a little bit of everything; academic descriptions of various mental diseases, nudity, depravity, disjointed scenes, subplots that vanish but mostly, the most vivid display of over-acting that one could ever ask for. Holy pre-shades of Ed Wood!

The portrayer of the mad scientist (Horace B. Carpenter) goes so far over the top that he needs a step ladder and a set of encyclopedias to stand on. Imagine Jon Lovitz’s “Acting!”character magnified tenfold. Amusingly, at one point in the film he refers to the actor portraying his assistant as “a ham”.


jimsiergeymaniacStrange and startling, indeed…


Unfortunately, Carpenter’s character dies about a third of the way through the story. Perhaps he needed to make the most of his part while it existed by memorably chewing up all the scenery. Fortunately though, his meek assistant (who bears a resemblance to the main character in Eraserhead) adopts the guise of the mad scientist and begins to emote nearly as profusely as his predecessor. Over-emoting runs rampant in this photoplay as nary an actor appears that does not leave his or her mark. By the end of the movie, not only the scenery but the film stock itself is in shreds.

By the way, if you plan to view this bit of cinematic creakiness, be sure to have your reading glasses along because there are long stretches of verbiage describing different types of mental illnesses that are inserted onscreen throughout the movie.

An actress named Phyllis Diller (not the same one that we all know and love) portrays Mrs. Buckley, a woman who wishes to mind-control her maniac husband with the assistance of the fake mad scientist. Unfortunately, her husband (who has a great “going insane” scene after being accidentally injected with “super adrenaline”) kidnaps a young woman who was brought back from the dead by the real mad scientist and is never heard from again.

jimsiergeymaniac1Genius at work…


As you can imagine, it would be fruitless to attempt to describe a plot. There are several memorable lines. My favorites being “I may not be decent but I’m sure going to be clean.” It’s uttered by a young lady who is taking a bath. (This occurs during the apartment scene where a quartet of cuties cavort in their lingerie and various stages of undress.) Another favorite line of dialogue is “The cats eat the rats, the rats eat the cats and I get the skins.” This is spoken by the entrepreneurial neighbor of the mad scientist.

There are a couple of disturbing scenes in this movie but, otherwise, it’s one hilarious moment after the other. Sensibilities be damned—see this flick! It’ll take less than an hour out of your life and you must have some time to waste, you read this blog post, didn’t you?


Editor’s Note: Jim‘s last post for The third City was Happy Hunting

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Jim Siergey: Happy Hunting

April 3rd, 2014

I’ve been on a hunting expedition.

I didn’t expect to be on one, but I am. If I had known, I’d have better equipped myself. I’d have secured a pith helmet, safari shirt with matching shorts and a rifle as well as a faithful companion and guide who would call me B’wana.

I daresay that those items would have been easier to procure than the item I am hunting for, which is…shoe laces.

Shoe laces? Yes, that taken for granted set of strings used to lace up one’s footwear. These articles themselves are not all that difficult to track down but the acquisition of a particular type of shoe lace has turned out to be an arduous task.

What began as a simple errand has turned into a mission.

Traditional shoe laces were made of leather, cotton, jute and hemp but modern laces are constructed of various synthetic fibers. This makes them more slippery and prone to becoming undone. These are the round or “tubed” laces that are prevalent in today’s shoes.

I am looking for the flat ones, also called “fat laces”. They are more secure and tend to hold a knot much better than the slick round ones. When I’m perambulating around, I don’t want to worry about any possible unravelment that may be taking place below my ankles.

I have enough unravelment going on above my shoulders.


Bob Hope


I stopped at a Jewel-Osco store. It’s a large place of business that carries many different types of products. To my disappointment, they had a very meager offering of shoe laces and all were of the round variety. With my nose upturned I exited the establishment and made my way to a Walgreens.

The selection at this retail chain was a bit more impressive. In fact, they had just what I was looking for— a pair of 45 inch flat laces! The catch was that they were grey. My shoes are black. I purchased them anyway.

At home I removed the precariously unreliable round laces and threaded the new grey ones into my shoes. I expected the shade of these grey laces to be dark but they are not. They are the lightest shade of grey imaginable. At first I thought the tonal difference of light grey against black looked rather dramatic but upon further reflection, it looked more like I was wearing clown shoes.

Despite their appearance, I have kept them in because my shod feet feel more secure with these firm laces. I ventured out once more, this time to a nearby CVS store. Their vast shoe lace display put the other stores to shame. Shoe laces of many colors and sizes were offered but, alas, every single one of them was round.

There’s a shoe repair shop not far from me. I’ll be entering their place of business soon. If I strike out there, I suppose I can hit the shoe stores. If those ventures prove to be unsuccessful I may end up having to make my own damn shoe laces.

Does anyone know where can I lay my hands on some jute?


Editor’s Note: Jim‘s last post for The Third City was Morning Ritual

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Matt Farmer: Rahm and Redford

March 30th, 2014

A week’s worth of tweets from the great Chairman Matt@mifarmer


BP continues to give back to the communities in which it operates. On Monday, BP donated hundreds of gallons of oil to Lake Michigan.


BP said its recent release of oil into Lake Michigan poses no threat to the lake’s Asian carp or to TV coverage of Rahm’s next Polar Plunge.


It’ll be #1 seed Florida over #4 seed UCLA tonight on CBS and #2 seed Emanuel Infomercial over #11 seed Journalism on @CNN. #Chicagoland


Rahm/Redford now negotiating with @msnbc for “Lockup: Chicago,” which will feature the tough but caring mayor helping inmates. #Chicagoland


CNN: The Most Trusted Name In Rahm Emanuel Infomercials. #Chicagoland


Looks like Robert Redford wisely deleted the footage of Rahm conducting a seance in an effort to communicate with Bobby Hull. #Chicagoland


Rahm now hanging a brown commemorative sign renaming two-block stretch of LaSalle Street the “Honorary CNN/Robert Redford Way.” #Chicagoland



Rahm to teachers: You’re guilty — of something…


Mayor Emanuel said today that his behind-the-scenes work to make last month the ninth coldest February in Chicago history reduced homicides.


Bitcoin upgrades Chicago’s economic status, noting that “the city, like Bitcoin, appears comfortable operating with imaginary money.”


Mark Sanchez agrees to a deal with the Eagles. Sources say he’ll likely serve as a backup to Joe Walsh, who is now 66 years old.


CPS plans to “turnaround” all office furniture at its downtown HQ and replace it with $9.5M worth of younger, lighter furniture. #cpsboard


Without Rahm’s longer school day, how would CPS Law Department investigators have enough time to interrogate kids who opted out of the ISAT?


In connection with its ongoing interrogation of ISAT opt-outs, CPS wants all copies of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” removed from schools.


Emanuel says city will provide CPS high school students with free condoms, but he’s still on the fence about P.E., art, music and libraries.


Chicago Board of Ed gives CPS central office $9.5M to buy new furniture from Staples. CPS teachers are lucky to get staples and staplers.


GOP candidate Bruce Rauner vows to take back Illinois from powerful labor interests like the Northwestern University football team.


Editor’s Note: Matt‘s last post for The Third City was Primary Tweets

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Jim Siergey: Morning Ritual

March 28th, 2014

Her bathrobe hung on the doorknob of her closet but it was too much effort for Louisa to arise from bed and walk over.  She sighed deeply, rolled off of her Sealy Posturepedic® and slid, entangled in her bedsheets, to the floor and slowly crawled over to her awaiting robe.

It was a pink crinoline number with teeny yellow bows trimming it and pastel blue hearts interwoven through the body of the fabric.  She tugged the dainty coverup from the doorknob and laid it out on the floor.

She slipped one arm through a sleeve and flipped onto her back, her free arm seeking and finding the vacant sleeve hole, then rolled over, cinching the sash at her waist in one fluid motion as she stood in admiration of her acrobatic feat of dressing herself.


Lookin’ good (illustration by Mr. Siergey!)…


With a toss of her leafy pink hair, she spun to face her bookless bookcase and snatched with her teeth a mentholated cigarette laying on the edge of the eye level shelf.

“Some day”, she thought to herself as she fumbled in the pockets of her robe for a match, “I will get some books.”

“But, then” her thought waves continued as her slender fingers found their sulphuric prey, removed one from her pocket and lit it by striking it across the sole of her foot, “where will I keep my cigarettes?”


Editor’s Note: Jim‘s last post for The Third City was Embarrassing Moments…

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Grabowski: Birthday Surprise

March 24th, 2014

My wife started pressing me over the summer for where I wanted to go for my 40 birthday in December.

“How about an African Safari like you’ve brought up a few times?” She asked one day, adding, “Since it will be winter we should go somewhere warm, how about Puerto Rico?”

The problem in my mind was that everywhere I really wanted to go wouldn’t make sense in the winter: a week long white water rafting camping trip in the Pacific Northwest, a bike tour from Krakow to the Baltic Sea, etc.

“I really have no desire to go anywhere for my birthday, I just want to celebrate here in Chicago,” I finally told her.

To relive my youth, my vision was to find an early 90s-era underground abandoned warehouse party.

One where people were carrying around stuffed animals and sucking on pacifiers, DJs spinning in different rooms, some kids smoking crack on the fire escape, and where the lights and music shut off occasionally because the generators ran out of gas.

After much research, including joining a Facebook Group called “Chicago Rave Syndicate” where the average member age was about 18, I found several possible parties on my actual birthday.

The most interesting-sounding one was a local Burning Man gathering, so I bought us tickets and told all my friends to do the same. I had it all figured out and I was satisfied and relieved.

Then one Thursday night a couple weeks before my birthday, my wife said my present had arrived early and it was perishable so I better open it that night, but to read the card out loud first:


“Your birthday is a big deal because you are entering a new decade. Happy 40th! So go pack your suitcase because we are leaving tomorrow morning on a birthday trip to celebrate you! Love, Kathryn.”


He thought he’d be vacationing with the Birdman…


I was in complete disbelief, denial and awe, and it took 10 minutes for her to convince me that it was not a joke.

I had never been surprised with anything before, nor had I ever taken a spontaneous trip, and in general I would not be described as a spontaneous person. I usually like to warm up to the idea going on vacation, on a particular date, plan it all out ahead of time, and tie off loose ends at work before I leave.

We had never even gotten a baby sitter for our nine-month-old daughter, but my wife arranged for our day care to watch her for three days and nights.

I boarded the plane without knowing the destination.

We passed a lot of Asians on the way to our seats, and a guy with an Oakland A’s hat.


Instead, it was more like this…


“Are we going to San Francisco?” I asked.

She wouldn’t say, but it turned out I was right.

When we landed she told me we had tickets to Alcatraz the next day. I acted somewhat exited even though I thought it was a bit random. I wondered what else she might have planned, and I hoped we were also going to that quaint Italian joint we went to once with the tasty pimento cheese stuffed pepper in cream of tomato sauce.

Waiting for our baggage I called my parents and told them the news, and that we wouldn’t be at their house for the birthday dinner they were having for my brother and me the next night.

“Wear a jacket on Alcatraz, its cold and windy there,” my mom warned.

I soon learned that my wife’s Alcatraz statement was meant to throw me off. Next thing I knew, we were on the highway headed to Napa where we drank fine wine in storybook settings and ate local food for the next two days.

She surprised me again when some friends who live in San Fran met us at a vineyard we were tasting at.

It was refreshing not to have to have thought about any trip planning, and just go and enjoy.

My wife really outdid herself, she thought of every last detail, for an incredible surprise birthday trip.

And she set the bar for her 40th.

But at least I have 18 months to plan for it.


Editor’s Note: Grabowski’s last post for The Third City was Eating Pie

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Matt Farmer: Primary Tweets

March 23rd, 2014

A week’s worth of tweets from the great Chairman Matt@mifarmer

With just nine hours to go until polls close in Illinois, Moody’s has downgraded the attention span of the state’s voters from Caa to C.


Jim Oberweis, GOP candidate for the Senate seat now held by Dick Durbin, said his polling place in Bonita Springs, Florida remains closed.


‏‪Let’s ‪#HammerAndShake the working people of Illinois into submission. Grab a GOP ballot and remember to “Punch 53,000,000″ for Bruce Rauner.


‪The number of primary voters in Illinois may still surpass the number of media members bringing us “live team coverage” of today’s races.


‪Should she lose tonight’s primary, Rep. Toni Berrios said she’ll leave state government and join her family’s public sector business.


‏‪Toni Berrios tells crowd she will find the man with dark hands who is pictured in her campaign mailing, and she will bring him to justice.


‏‪In a bizarre late-night twist, the “equalized assessed value” of the Chicago building in which ‪@WillGuzzardi now lives has suddenly tripled.




Matt Farmer — troublemaker!


Rauner camp says IL nursing home returns were good. Rauner received 3% of that vote in his own name and another 27% as “Dr. Death” write-in.


‪After WGN and AP called tonight’s election for him, Bruce Rauner wasted no time ordering his security team to release the hounds.


‪Rauner thanks his family and then offers “special thanks to Stuart Levine and Arne Duncan for having the strength to stay silent.”


‪Rauner says it’s now time to heal wounds within the party, insisting there’s room for billionaires AND millionaires inside the GOP tent.


‪Carhartt has released a limited edition Bruce Rauner jacket, which is “made from 100% artificial materials and is conveniently reversible.”


Rahm said he’ll bring the same level of energy to Pat Quinn’s campaign that he’s brought to his work on behalf of Chicago’s working class.


Bruce Rauner drops new single: “This land is your land, this land is my land. And this land’s also mine. And so is this adjoining parcel.”

Rest easy, Illinois. The transfer of power from Mike Madigan’s old super-majority to his new super-majority will be seamless and peaceful.


Editor’s Note: Matt‘s last post for The Third City was The Presidential Library…


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Jim Siergey: Embarrassing Moments

March 19th, 2014

I’ve got this old pair of jeans that I wear around the house. Lately I’ve had to be careful in unzipping them because the zipper slider, as it is called—the part that moves up and down the zipper chain, tends to get buried in the crevice at the bottom of the fly of my pants. It gets stuck there and is impossible to extract by hand.

So, the other day I found myself hunched over in my bathroom using a pair of tweezers in an attempt (a successful attempt, I might add) to dislodge the entombed slider. As I was doing this, I flashed back to what would have happened if back in high school someone came across me at this moment.

“Wottaya doin’ wit’ those tweezers, Siergey, tryin’ ta find yer dick?”

Embarrassing moments, we’ve all had them. I know I have. By the truckload.

I will not attempt to pry deeply into my memory to drudge them up. Many are too painful to recall but, mostly, I’m too lazy to think that hard. But I’m sure that a few will easily float to the surface so I can recall them here for your sadistic pleasure.

Let’s go back to high school where many shameful memories still percolate in the occipital ooze of my brain. One unshameful but face-reddening memory rises to the top. I had finally gotten to the level of coolness where I was wearing metal “horseshoe” cleats on the heels of my shoes. They made quite a clatter on the tiled and wooden floors of my school. But one had to take a bit of care when ambulating as they could get slick on those same floors.


A replica of Siergey’s zipper…


In this particular time period there was one class for which I was perennially late. Not by much but I could never make it to my seat before the bell finished ringing. I was about ten feet away from the doorway of this class when the bell rang. Determined to make it to my seat before the clanging ceased, I ran. I ran at top speed to the doorway and as I made my turn to enter I could feel myself go out of control. I had pivoted on my heel and I was sliding willy-nilly on my cleat. I slid into the room, pirouetted and sat with a thump and a splat right in the seat of my desk which, fortunately, was in the front row.

The class was too dumbstruck at my spectacle to laugh but after the teacher drolly remarked “You always have to make an entrance, don’t you, Mr. Siergey?” the titters and guffaws were released.

Let’s move on from those troubled teen-age years. As an adult, I applied for many jobs. The interview process always made me nervous. All those questions about why I wanted the position, what made me qualified, where do I see myself in five years—hell, I just wanted a job, man. I had this one interview during which to assuage my nervousness, I sat back in my chair across the desk from the interviewer and crossed my legs, ankle over knee. It did, indeed, relax me.

The interview took place and at the end the interviewer said to me, “I think you’re right for the job but you looked way too comfortable in that chair so I’m not going to hire you.” Apparently in the marketplace, perspiration is a plus.Okay, one last one and if you haven’t already, you can go.


“In the corner of my eye…”


Some years back, my wife and I were going to a friend’s house to celebrate her birthday. Cindy had baked a cake and wanted to stop and buy some ice cream as an accompaniment. We stopped at an Aldi’s store where we put a half gallon of vanilla ice cream into our cart and headed to the checkout lane. While waiting there, my thirsty spouse removed a bottle of root beer from the point of purchase cooler and placed it next to the ice cream on the counter. Seeing these two items nestled together on the counter top, I exclaimed, “Look! A Black Cow!”

Beaming, I looked at my dear sweet wife for acknowledgment of what I thought was somewhat of a clever remark. I was shaken by what I saw. There were daggers in her eyes. Nay, not daggers—machetes, scimitars. If looks could kill, I’d be getting zipped up in a body bag and loaded onto the meat wagon. I couldn’t understand how my confectionery statement could cause such a change in her demeanor. To escape her piercing stare I turned away and saw that in front of us was a very obese African-American woman.

She was busy unloading her groceries from her cart so I doubt that she heard me and, even if she did, why would she think that anyone would make such a comment aimed at her? I suppose there are people that would but no one would expect a nice-looking young man like me to do so, would they? Still, I clumsily tried to cover my tracks.

“See?” I said aloud to no one in particular and pointing to our items on the counter, “Root beer and vanilla ice cream—the makings of a Black Cow!” As innocent as my statement was, I was glad that we were in an Aldi’s because one bagged one’s own groceries at Aldi’s and her husband was way at the end of the counter, doing just that. Otherwise, I might have gotten my embarr-ass kicked from here to Tuesday and back again.

Good night, folks!


Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Gilt Trip

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